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Song in Four Parts with Jeanette McDonald Closeup

by Julie Sophia Paegle


Her face, since colorized, still burns my eyes:
            eye-green and hair-red gently bled
to the same gray by black-and-white, and blurred

on screen by Vaseline on the camera
            lens.  Or so runs this urban myth of fuzz
and luminosity.  Her teeth gleam screen-worthy

white, abut against the abyss of her open
            mouth, which houses a swallowing
black.  Nelson Eddy will soon arrive,

beneath her window, to intercept
            her high note, to call her, wrongly,
Blueyes.  I wait and wait impatiently

for the one who will come for me,
            as Nelson will appear, magnificently,
and expose L.A. living rooms in their matinee

to his crashing Au revoir, Rose Marie!
            But first, shining from the window
and screen, there flashes the glass—

our signal scudding pixels—
            light flooding Jeanette’s lips
so first out and under I’ll go,

                                                ~

since soon I’ll be ten again, and doing again

what I really should not, with a boy
            (he was twelve, his name was Scott)
and a magnifying glass, under a bush in my backyard,

and soon we’ll be caught and caught very hard, but not before
            we learn how to make night simply,
scrambling and splaying under some shrubbery,

and not before we find that even beneath
            that bubble of lens, the leaves bleed
their green to shade, and the plump raspberries

lose their red, and not before we turn the lens
            to the diminishing colors
of so many withins:  pockets and tank-tops

and dropping-down seams.  Mostly not before:
            I find how to lie back in that scratchy pithed night
and Scott's lens finds one shaft of light

from down the shifting tree, and plays its vanishing
            radius rainbow, and mostly not before
the light finds me.

                                                ~

Au revoir, Rose Marie!  and then the parting and the flood
            —all the light and still no colors—just the mud
beneath the nails, and just the not-night ground,

and baths and living room scales—

                                                ~

So now, obscenely, when I see
            the heady close-up of any Rose Marie,
she has Scott in her teeth,

his towel her fringed handkerchief,
            his clear glass lens swelling the note
that saw his safe passage from the city

center to the fringe of Los Angeles:
            the beach.  The ocean splashes sand on sand,
foams green at his feet, stung red

by the wind.  Seaweed sprawls in the draw.
            He slaps his board down on its shadow.
He balances black, breaches in.

 

Julie Sophia Paegle’s poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2007, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, Alpinist, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, and others. She teaches creative writing and literature at California State University San Bernardino and lives in the San Bernardino mountains with her husband and sons. (10/2008)


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